Apr 12, 2024  
General Catalog 2023-2024 
General Catalog 2023-2024

Doctor of Physical Therapy, DPT

The doctorate in Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) is the educational standard for the field and required for physical therapy licensure. Physical Therapy is a profession dedicated to the improvement of the quality of life. It serves humanity, which is holistic in nature and provides services to persons of all ages, gender and cultures. In concert with the mission of the university and to meet the needs of the community, the physical therapy department faculty has developed the following mission statement.

Departmental/Program Goals: The department seeks to (1) attract high quality applicants from a variety of academic, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds; (2) develop future intellectual leaders of the profession engaged in the community who will enhance the economic vitality and quality of life for the region; and (3) develop clinical partnerships and professional alliances to enhance the quality of the graduate program and delivery of health care services by our graduates.

D.P.T. Program Student Learning Outcomes: The graduate will be a competent physical therapy practitioner who can function safely and effectively. Upon successful completion of the DPT program, students will be prepared for the following:

  1. Demonstrate comprehension and integration of the foundational, applied and clinical sciences of anatomy, physiology, neurology, and pathology for application to the physical therapy clinical setting.
  2. Expressively and receptively communicate in a professional and ethical manner to a culturally diverse population in classroom activities and in clinical settings including patients/clients, families, care givers, practitioners, consumers, payers, and policy makers utilizing terminology appropriate to the context of the communication.
  3. Demonstrate competent professional practice independently and interdependently while providing patient centered care services, including wellness/prevention, to patients whether referred or self-referring. And, to know federal and state regulations, professional practice and association history and regulations, payer requirements and state practice acts.
  4. Demonstrate appropriate clinical decision-making skills, including clinical reasoning, clinical judgment, differential diagnosis, reflective practice, and self-reflection/assessment.
  5. Critically review existing research and expand their clinical research skills in order to build the evidence of practice for clinical decision making skills and innovative physical therapy interventions based on solid theoretical constructs.

Admissions to the Entry-Level Doctor of Physical Therapy Graduate Program. Individuals must possess a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university and complete all prerequisite requirements prior to beginning the professional major. Students are only admitted for the fall semester. Students should apply to the program in the fall prior to anticipated entry into the Physical Therapy Program. Admission to the entry-level three-year D.P.T. program requires a two-part application. The department application is submitted through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) ( www.ptcas.org). Applications are typically available in July the year prior to the fall semester of the D.P.T program. The CSU Graduate/Postbaccalaureate application is submitted online through CSU Apply (www2.calstateapply.edu/apply). Please refer to the department website for appropriate deadlines for these two applications.

Physical Therapy Program Application Filing Period: Please see www.fresnostate.edu/physicaltherapy for specific dates.

In addition to the PTCAS and CSU Graduate/Postbaccalaureate applications, transcripts are required from all prior institutions attended by the applicant, official GRE test scores, physical therapy observation hours verification, and letters of reference. GRE scores are considered during program admissions; however, there is no minimum GRE requirement. Late transcripts or documentation will result in not being considered. Please review the Physical Therapy Department’s website for additional admissions information.

Criteria for Departmental Retention and Progression

Criteria for retention in the three-year entry-level D.P.T. program and progression to the next semester in the program:

  1. Maintaining a minimum 3.0 GPA each semester in the program
  2. Maintaining a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA in D.P.T. degree requirements
  3. Achieving a minimum grade of C (or CR) in each PHTH course.*
  4. Enrolling in and completing all required courses in sequence.

Students must carry malpractice insurance, must purchase an appropriate laboratory coat, and must provide their own transportation to hospitals and clinics for off-campus classes and clinical laboratories. Additional laboratory fees may be required. Students must also provide for all expenses while enrolled in clinical internships. Expenses include student fees, housing, meals, and travel.

*Any student receiving a grade less than C will not be able to continue in the program, regardless of semester or overall GPA. Please note that grade substitution is not permitted at the graduate level. A student must receive a grade of CR in all clinical education courses (PHTH 554-559). A student receiving a grade of less than a C or NC in a PHTH course will have one opportunity to repeat the course. A second grade of less than a C or NC in a repeated PHTH course will result in disqualification from the program. Any student who repeats a course will be dropped back into a previous cohort of students since all coursework is sequential. A student cannot drop back to a previous cohort more than one time throughout the three-year program.

Prerequisite Requirements for Entry-level D.P.T. Program

All science courses must include laboratories and cannot be at an introductory level. Human anatomy and physiology must be taken from an anatomy, physiology, anatomy and physiology, biology, or zoology department. Combined human anatomy and physiology courses will be considered only if a combined course sequence is completed.

In addition, the following courses are recommended to enhance success in the program:

  • Oral communication skills
  • Computer literacy
  • General biology
  • Microbiology
  • Neurophysiology
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Kinesiology/biomechanics
  • Exercise physiology
  • Gerontology/Geriatrics
  • Medical Terminology

The screening committee reviews admission criteria. Prior to admission to the program, the applicant must meet the following requirements:

  1. Hold or be eligible to receive a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university by the end of the spring semester prior to admission to the program.
  2. Have completed a minimum of 8/10 of the specified prerequisite courses at time of application. No more than two prerequisite courses can be in-progress during the fall term of application.
  3. Submit GRE test scores to PTCAS by the application deadline. Students are encouraged to take the GRE early to avoid delays in acceptance for graduate work.
  4. Receive a grade of C or better in each prerequisite course and maintain a total prerequisite GPA of 3.0. No course maybe repeated more than one time and no more than three prerequisite courses may be repeated. AP credit, CR/NC grades, or independent study courses cannot be used for prerequisite requirements. All prerequisite courses must be taken for a letter grade.
  5. Provide evidence of knowledge of physical therapy through employment, volunteer work, or observation in a physical therapy department for a minimum of 100 hours (with at least 20/100 hours in a general inpatient setting). All observation hours must be under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.
  6. Submit three letters of recommendation, as specified in application instructions.
  7. Participate in a personal interview. Meeting the foregoing criteria does not guarantee an applicant an interview.
  8. Submit grades and final transcripts from institutions other than Fresno State as soon as grades are posted.

Meeting the foregoing criteria does not guarantee acceptance into the three-year entry-level D.P.T. program. Applicants from other colleges or universities who meet the foregoing criteria are considered on the same basis as California State University, Fresno applicants applying for admission to the program.

Human Anatomy and Physiology


  • Human Anatomy with lab (Combined Human Anatomy and Physiology with labs accepted)




  • Life science biology with lab

Psychology #1


  • General introductory psychology, Developmental or Lifespan

Psychology #2


  • Psychological Aspects of Disability or Abnormal Psychology


Fresno State:


  • Physics with lab including mechanics, heat, light, sound, and electricity



  • Introduction to basic statistics

Requirements for the Doctor of Physical Therapy

Core Requirements (95 units)

Total: 110 Units

*PHTH 557 , PHTH 558 , and PHTH 559  clinical experiences are conducted in a variety of clinical facilities throughout the state or out of state. Students must provide for all expenses including housing, meals, and travel. These are offered CR/NC only. A certification of clinical completion plus the D.P.T. must be completed to be eligible to take the state examination for licensure.

Advancement to Candidacy Requirements

Students usually advance to candidacy in the fall semester of their third year of the D.P.T. Students must meet the following criteria:

  1. Classified graduate student standing.
  2. A minimum GPA of 3.0 (overall, program, and California State University, Fresno) on all coursework completed after the date of the first course to be included in the doctor of physical therapy degree program, with no grade below C.
  3. Successful completion of their qualifying exam given in the spring semester of the second year. The qualifying exam consists of a written and oral proposal (Evidence-Based Practice, Research, or Advanced Clinical Case).
  4. Demonstrated required competency in clinical coursework (PHTH 554 - PHTH 559) with grade of CR or a letter grade of B or better.
  5. Demonstrated graduate-level writing proficiency. (Satisfactory completion of PHTH 591 - Research Methods  will fulfill this requirement.)
  6. Approval from the faculty to enroll in PHTH 598  as the doctoral project.

A culminating event is required of all Fresno State doctor of physical therapy degree candidates. Students in physical therapy satisfy the requirement through an oral and written presentation of an evidence-based review of a clinical practice question, clinical research project, or advanced clinical case.

In compliance with Federal Requirements for Posting Licensure and Certification Eligibility, please see the CSU Chancellor’s Office calstate.edu website.